You really have to sympathise with Blackpool’s army of retail workers, under ever increasing pressure to literally run the shop on an ever diminishing staff.
As you know I can’t stand supermarket shopping anyway, so a trip to the local to get in the necessaries has always been an ordeal. The pain I suffer having to join the endless queues however, is only matched by the torment and despair suffered by many of the hard pressed staff.
After chatting at length to one lady on the checkouts, I discover that staffing levels have once again plummeted as workers call in sick and miss shifts. They’ll be off sick for any number of good reasons, probably not least the stress these good people have to suffer day after day at the hands of a largely unsympathetic yet demanding customer base.
We’ve heard of shop workers being threatened, verbally and sometimes physically assaulted just for doing their job to the very best of their ability.
Having spoken of people working in some of our leading stores, the old guard will tell you they’re still trying to achieve the same level of service the brand was known for in the past, against a backdrop of inexperienced management, cutbacks, and the ever present threat coming from cheaper high street stores and our eternal love affair with online shopping.
The lady in the supermarket points to the number of checkouts removed for the latest fad of self service scanning. “That’s the reason the queues at the tills are longer” she explains… fewer staff all round plus the ever present issue of sickness.
Margins get squeezed even more, and desperate stores look for even more savings. Yet anyone with an ounce of common sense would see their workforce as the most valuable asset they have.
Happy workers are productive workers… those who don’t see the threat of automisation around every corner, and those whose welfare is of paramount importance to the company.
It’s time our supermarket bosses started thinking about their staff and support them more, and that means challenging decisions from above about the spirit of the business. As I’ve said before in this column, we can do our bit by never serving ourselves in shops, and helping to make it a better day for the check out worker.